Reflections on the Pandemic- How has it affected your Mental Health?
I have just returned from a wonderful trip away to visit my family in Monterey (just
south of San Francisco). The trip was filled with adventures. From visiting Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, Santa Cruz and the Big Sur….. without forgetting the beautiful Monterey Bay. I had the great privilege of meeting my new (ish) niece for the first time.
I have returned with a renewed sense of self. An energy that I cannot remember having since the Pandemic hit . It’s made me stop and think about the impact of the pandemic on my mental health. Although I (thankfully) feel psychologically well, I have my energy back, which I hadn’t realised I was missing.
I’ve reflected on this new found energy and taken the time out to really think about how the pandemic has affected me personally. From a physiological perspective, I have had Covid and recovered well (again thankfully). From a social perspective, so much has changed. Although I have not (luckily) seen too much threat in the environment, I have experienced others seeing me as a threat due to the potential of carrying the virus. We have moved from a culture of connecting through often seeking close proximity to one another, where now often the close proximity has become a threat, rather than an opportunity to connect. Those social scripts that help many of us to navigate life have no longer been useful.
We have had to develop new ways to be social. We’ve had to adjust to virtual interaction, we’ve had to learn about the etiquette of social interactions. Many of us have learned not to stand up when presenting to a big group when our bottom halves are dressed in joggers! We adapt, it’s how we survive and it’s what makes us brilliantly human. However these type of adaptations typically occur over decades not over weeks/ months. I have gone from working 90% of my time in close proximity to now 90% of my time remote.
Many people have felt isolation beyond anything they have experienced before. Those who live alone, no longer just ‘live alone’, their life has been alone due to restrictions on proximity. Those who have had to be hospitalised for pregnancies, operations etc., have not only not had the comfort of a loved one by their side removed , but in addition they have had to isolate away from friends and family before these huge life events. Many were not able to wish farewell to their loved ones. Those who are physically and or psychologically abused could not get away physically and the close proximity has led to increased abuse.
Whilst others have found huge comfort away from an office situation. Have enjoyed the reduced pressure of having to be sociable and see people.
So what kind of impact has the pandemic had on you?
I urge you to set aside 30 minutes and write your story on the pandemic so far.
· Notice how you felt when you realised it was real
· Notice how you felt when friends and family responded differently
· What impact has it had on your life/work/family/relationships?
· What have you learned about yourself?
( Please give this a go, rather than simply reading this!).
As I said at the start, this real reflection has only occurred as a biproduct of some change in my everyday life, which has both energised me and helped me to notice how I had responded over time to this crisis.
I have held back from writing about the pandemic as for so many reasons, it is a highly emotive subject for many. The pandemic, like many of our shared histories has created extreme polarities in thought and actions. This blog is not about my position on the pandemic and our individual responses, but more about how I have reflected on its impact on my life and how I can support friends/family/clients/colleagues to think about the impact on theirs more.